Menus and recommended widgets

Now you have come to the last post of the series on customizing your blog – Menus and recommended widgets.

If you had missed the previous 2 posts on customizing your blog, you can read them at the links below –

  1. Choosing and activating your theme
  2. Editing and changing your header image

In blogging, how do you understand by what is a menu and a widget?

If you enter a restaurant, you are given a menu with the list of dishes that you can order. Likewise, you can customize a menu in your blog to let your visitors, in this case of a private blog – yourself, to see what your blog contains at one look and have access to these contents (either a page, link, category, tag and post) by clicking on them.

A widget is an application that you can add to your blog to help you perform a function or have access to a service. It’s like a call button to press to ask for the waiter to come and take your order.

Let us revise the anatomy of a blog again as this is related to where the menu and widgets are found  –

22-anatomy-of-a-blog

If you remember, under “Theme options” of the Customizer, I have set my blog to make it a 2 columned one with 1 sidebar on the right.

31-theme-options-2

The menu is found above the header image whereas the widgets are found in the sidebar on the right. The default Menu consists of 3 default items – “Home”, “About” and “Contact”. For Secret place blogging, I had deleted the “Home” page item in the menu because it is redundant as my “About” page is my static home page. The 2 default widgets in the sidebar are “Text widget” and “Search”.

47-anatomy-of-my-blog

To learn how to create a new custom menu and add new items to a menu, please visit this page and watch the video in this WordPress.com Support page – Custom Menus.

You should have learned that there are several different types of items that you can add to your menu – Page, link, category, tag and post. In this blog, Secret place blogging, I have used only page items and a link item. “About”, “Why online spiritual journaling?”, “Get started now”, “Spiritual significance of this blog”, “Disclaimer” and “Contact”are page items while “WordPress.com’s Terms of Service” is a link item.

The types of menu items can be differentiated by the symbol beside the item or by clicking on the edit symbol (pencil). For “Home”, it is a link by default to the main content page that displays your latest posts.

You can change the contents in the default “About” and “Contact” pages or even delete away the “Contact” page if you find it redundant for your private blog as you are the only one who views it.

The “About” page is important to set the focus, direction and scope of your private journaling blog so do take some time to ponder and write a good and thorough one. It has already been created as a page and set as an item in your menu by default. We will touch on more of this in the next post – Writing, publishing and editing.

48-different-types-of-menu-items

Besides this blog, Secret place blogging, which you are reading now, I will show you another example from my current private journaling blog – Loving faithfulness.

48-anatomy-of-loving-faithfulness

For Loving faithfulness, it is a 3 columned blog (the main content will appear smaller). The menu is found on the left column, under the header image in the left sidebar while the widgets are found on the right column, in the right sidebar. All the items are pages except for “Led to learn” which is a direct link to my private blog for learning new things.

I will say that the default primary menu is sufficient for a private blog and it is not necessary to create a new menu. You can rename your primary menu if you want and we will learn how to add more items to it in the next post – Writing, publishing and editing – after you have learned and created more new pages and posts.

Now on the second part about widgets – I do not recommend you use too many widgets for your private blog as it will complicate your blog.

Firstly, let’s have an idea how to add and delete a widget from the contents of this page provided by WordPress.com Support – Widgets.

You can change the settings of the widgets from the Customizer. From the Customizer, go to “Widgets”, “Sidebar right” then “Add a widget”.

49-add-a-widget

You can experiment by putting different widgets at different areas of your blog – Footer 1, Footer 2, Footer 3 and sidebar right – save & publish to see how your blog looks like.

The 5 recommended widgets that I am using for my private journaling blogs are the Search Widget, Calendar Widget, Archives Widget, Categories Widget and Links Widget. Search Widget allows you to find something from the previous blog posts that you had published. Calendar Widget lets you see at one glance the days that you have blogged to monitor your consistency. Archives Widget and Categories Widget allow you to retrieve a post that you may want to re-read easily if you do remember around when you have blogged it and also the category the post is classified and filed under. I will talk more about the Links Widget later on.

After you have placed the widgets that you want, remember to click on “Save & Publish” on your top left.

50-recommended-widgets

Now you have your widgets. Your blog will look something like this (I have removed the default text widget).

51-blog-with-widgets

The Links Widget will display as “Blogroll” the links that you have added to your blog. To learn how to add new, edit or delete links, please visit this page – Links Menu (Blogroll).

Go to your wp (wordpress) admin dashboard if you need to make changes to your links. To go to your wp admin dashboard, just type in your blog address with “/wp-admin” behind in your web browser and press enter. You can bookmark this in your browser as you may need to access it regularly to make changes to your links.

52-wp-admin-page

The links that are added will be displayed by your Links Widget.

These two pages from WordPress.com Support will give you more information on how to manage your links –

  1. Managing links
  2. Link categories

You can start and continue to compile a list of websites that you will visit regularly as links you go along your journey of online spiritual journaling.

In conclusion, this page of WordPress.com Support supplies the information for the topics relating to widgets and sidebars which you can take a look to supplement any other knowledge that you may need.

If you need more help on widgets, you can type in the search bar to search from the topics at WordPress.com Support Home page; Search the forums or add a new topic and wait for answers at WordPress.com forums.

We have come to the last post of the series on customizing your blog.

Finally we can get down to writing your spiritual reflections and experiences in the next post – Writing, publishing and editing.

Alternatively, You may also choose to return to the page – Get started now.

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